One of the first questions we hear from families and students is, “What will I be eating at Adventure Treks? Is it only going to be freeze-dried meals or granola bars?” Fortunately, the answer is, “No way!” A big component of a successful Adventure Treks trip is food. We eat well at every meal, and we have as much fresh food (including fruits and vegetables) as possible. Below, our logistics coordinator and food guru Kate Brown addresses a few common concerns.
Will my kid go hungry?
Definitely not. We always extra food available at Adventure Treks. A meal with the right number of portions is always one that has a little extra at the end. We emphasize having protein at every meal so that students are eating foods that fuel them for whatever outdoor activity they are doing that day.
You might ask, “What if my child does not eat as fast as other students. Will she miss out?” We do something called “seconds” at Adventure Treks to make sure everyone gets enough food. Students take just enough the first time through the meal line to make sure there is food leftover. After a little while, we’ll ask, “Does anyone want seconds?” Any student who is still hungry can go back through the meal line, again leaving enough for everyone to have another helping.
For our “bottomless pit” students, we always provide peanut butter and jelly at every meal, though it is never the main option. During the day, between meals, we always have snacks available for munching like peanut butter pretzels, fresh apples or oranges, different varieties of trail mix, pita chips and hummus, Goldfish, fig bars, or veggie chips!
I’m worried about the quality of food my kid will eat in an outdoor environment.
We eat real food at Adventure Treks, much like the meals you and your family eat at home. Almost anything you can cook in the kitchen that doesn’t require an oven or microwave can be cooked in the backcountry! However, when we say “backcountry,” that can bring to mind images of vacuum-sealed, dehydrated bags like MRE food. Not only is prepackaged outdoor food expensive, but it also does not taste as good!
At Adventure Treks, we use real ingredients for all of our meals. In the frontcountry, which includes places where we have access to our coolers, we prepare fresh food at almost every meal. We buy non-perishable items (pasta, rice, etc.) before our trip starts, and we restock every two to three days when we are in the frontcountry on fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat. The meals during backpacking and other backcountry activities are a little more limited than frontcountry meals, but they are still super tasty! We add vegetables to every meal in the backcountry that we can. On days four or five of a backpack, instead of fresh fruit, we may have dried fruit like cherries or raisins as snacks and for breakfast. We spice up food in creative ways during backpacks in a variety of ways, like with sun-dried tomatoes, fancy Parmesan cheese, and lots of spices!
What if my child has dietary restrictions, allergies, or is just a picky eater?
Many of our students have some sort of food allergy, and we are able to accommodate most of them. (If your student does have a food allergy or dietary restriction, we will likely have a phone conversation upon signing up.) Because we have vegetarians on almost every trip, we also make sure there is always a non-meat protein. All of our meals are made buffet-style so that students can create a personalized meal to their liking. Stir fry, for example, would have separate servings of rice, vegetables, chicken, tofu, extra sauces, and spices.
For picky eaters, we ask that they at least try foods at least once. We do provide dessert every evening; after a hot day of climbing it may be fresh watermelon, or we may make hot chocolate at the end of a mountain summit! After being active all day, it’s nice to have a small, sweet reward.
Food is a huge part of the Adventure Treks culture. We find that communities are built around food, and people are generally happier when they are full and have just eaten a delicious meal. Each year, we add new and exciting recipes. Many students and instructors say they eat better at Adventure Treks than they do at home! We are always happy to answer questions about food at Adventure Treks; give us a call anytime at 828-698-0399. If you’d like to see more of the meals that we create on trips, read this blog on meals and this blog on backcountry recipes.